Our allies Nipomo Action Committee have asked us to ask our members to oppose the Proposed Dana Reserve in Nipomo, a high-density housing development that would remove 3,000 mature oaks on the Nipomo Mesa.
Although we don't often take action on issues outside of Santa Barbara County, we believe the issues in this case warrant our attention.
Here is information from Nipomo Action Committee:
The County of San Luis Obispo Planning Commission has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 30 and 31, and then they will make their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
Nipomo Action Committee has asked us to write letters against this proposed project before Aug. 30 after which the public record will close.
Equally important is to have as many people there at the Planning Commission meeting at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, County Government Center, 1055 Monterey Street, Room D170, San Luis Obispo on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
The meeting starts at 9 a.m. with the staff report and Planning Commissioner questions. Public comment times starts at 1 p.m. People wanting/willing to speak (for no more than 3 minutes) must fill out speaker slips, either in the morning or during the lunch hour before 1 p.m. Find the agenda here.
Public comment goes up to 5 p.m., then they resume the following day on Aug. 31 if there are more speakers. Discussion and a recommendation on the project will take place Aug. 31.
The Nipomo Action Committee explains why folks in Santa Barbara County should care about the Dana Reserve project in Nipomo:
- Oak woodland and associated Burton Mesa Chaparral on the project site is a unique and irreplaceable biological habitat and the largest remaining oak woodland on private property on the Nipomo mesa and in the Santa Maria Valley with endangered and special status plants.
- The proposed off-site mitigation for oaks is not a replacement of oaks or like habitat and sets an alarming precedent for the future of oak woodlands within San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties as there is no suitable location for the replacement of the rare maritime chaparral which is also difficult to reestablish.
- Every drop of water for this project is being purchased from the City of Santa Maria with the sales pitch that it will not impact Nipomo's sub-basin. What about the cumulative impacts to the Santa Maria water basin? Santa Maria's water is the project cornerstone and without this element the mega project is not feasible -- Santa Maria profits from this sale are thus complicit in this misguided plan.
- We cannot afford the loss of the climate stabilizing benefits of 3,000+ oak trees in this time of climate crisis.
- The crisis people face with lack of affordable housing and the crisis of climate change must not be pitted against each other anywhere as they are not mutually exclusive issues, and there are suitable locations for affordable housing that do not decrease our resilience to impacts of climate change.
- More information is in the Final EIR and at the StopDanaReserve website.
Voices from Santa Barbara County will make a difference. Representatives need to know Dana Reserve Project is not just a Nipomo issue.
And here are more reasons from Nipomo Action Committee ...
- It is not just 3,000 mature oak trees that would be bulldozed in the developer's plan for the proposed Dana Reserve in Nipomo but permanent and irreplaceable loss of the largest remaining oak woodland on the Nipomo Mesa and the Santa Maria Valley with endangered and special status plants.
- The plan also dictates the habitat around the remaining trees will be scraped bare of the unique white sage, local manzanita and rare and delicate Pismo Clarkia flower. From the living microrhyzome in the soil that helps trees nourish and communicate with each other to the insects in the acorns that feed the acorn woodpecker and the burrows that host our small mammal relatives, oak woodlands host more species that any other terrestrial ecosystem in North America.
- Oak woodlands were central to the life ways of the Chumash for thousands of years and remain an iconic part of all our identities as Californians today. About two-thirds of California's oak woodlands have been lost, and poorly designed urban development as well as disease accelerated by climate change are the biggest culprits today.
- Preserving forests is critical to slow global warming. Forty percent of this property has oak forest and woodland. Recent independent calculations demonstrate each year that 3,000 trees (the number proposed for removal) would capture and store in the soil 596,220 lbs. of of carbon from the atmosphere each year. Over 20 years this translates to removing 14,120,550 lbs. of carbon sequestration, removing 51,775,380 lbs. of carbon dioxide from the air.
- We might feel overwhelmed about the unthinkable challenges ahead as the climate warms and species loss continues. As the earth warms creating severe disruptions including population displacement, can we afford to contribute to the problem? Oak habitat also absorbs heat from the atmosphere (development reflects and amplifies heat) and provides cool microclimates for species including humans for climate resilience. Oaks also help percolate water as opposed to roads and buildings that increase heat and shed water.
- Affordable housing and habitat protection are not mutually exclusive, and we must challenge the developer’s narrative that clearcutting oaks and building the million dollar homes is a requirement in order to fund the rest of the project.